Friday, July 29, 2016

#2,157. The Dead (2010)

Directed By: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford

Starring: Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia, David Dontoh

Premiere: This movie premiered at the 2010 UK Frightfest Film Festival

Trivia: The opening scene in the desert was filmed on one of the last days of shooting

The opening scene of 2010’s The Dead, where a lone figure walks across the Sahara Desert, looks as if it might have been lifted from a BBC nature documentary. It is beautiful. The serenity is eventually interrupted, however, by a man, his leg badly mangled (two bones protrude from the side), walking towards our lonely traveler. This injured man is a zombie. The walking dead. He is immediately followed by another… and another… and another. 

Despite its often-stunning vistas (the movie was shot on-location in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and other areas of Africa), The Dead is a no-nonsense, comedy-free horror film about a zombie outbreak and the difficulties that two characters face as they try to make their way to safety.

The dead have returned to life in West Africa, and are feeding on the living. Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman), an American engineer, is stranded when a plane carrying himself and a handful of others crashes soon after take-off. The only one to survive the wreck, Murphy desperately searches for another airport so he can return home to his wife (Katy Richardson) and daughter (Fae Ford-Brister). 

Along the way, Murphy meets Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Price David Oseia), an African solider trying to locate his son (Gaal Hama). Working together, the two men commandeer a vehicle and head deep into the desert, with the dead hot on their trail.

Directed by brothers Howard and Jon Ford, The Dead has quite a bit in common with George Romero’s Living Dead series. Along with moving very slowly (as they did in 1968's Night of the Living Dead and its sequels), the zombies in this film are literally everywhere. Because of this, Murphy and Daniel must remain constantly on the move. Whenever they stop driving for one reason or another, the dead lumber towards them. Sure, they're easy to outrun, and easier still to eliminate. In fact, to save ammunition, neither Murphy nor Daniel will shoot an oncoming zombie until it’s right on top of them. But the living dead are relentless in their pursuit. Even at night, the two leads can't relax. This is what generates tension throughout the film, and that tension grows stronger with each passing scene.

The gore effects are also excellent, with realistic bite wounds, violent head shots (one zombie gets his face caved in by a shotgun blast), and body parts strewn about (not all those who are bitten get back up; sometimes, there’s nothing left of them but a puddle of blood and guts). All this, plus the vast quantities of living dead that populate the movie, make The Dead a highly effective, not to mention very serious, horror flick.

I’m a fan of Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and the like, but it was good to see a movie that reminds us just how frightening zombies can truly be.

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